Strategies for the prevention and treatment of bleeding in patients treated with dabigatran: an update
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INTRODUCTION: Although dabigatran is safer than vitamin K antagonists, bleeding still occurs. Bleeding is an important cause of short-term morbidity and rarely mortality and can also have long-term consequences that are often under-appreciated. After bleeding, patients often do not restart treatment or are poorly adherent, which is associated with increased thromboembolism and mortality. Consequently, we need strategies to prevent and treat bleeding in patients with atrial fibrillation treated with dabigatran. AREAS COVERED: We review a) relevant dabigatran pharmacology, b) the burden and consequences of bleeding, c) how to identify patients at high risk of bleeding; and d) existing and novel approaches to prevent and treat bleeding in dabigatran-treated patients. EXPERT OPINION: Concerns about the risk of bleeding associated with anticoagulant therapy and emerging evidence of increased risk of thromboembolism and mortality after bleeding highlight the need for improved approaches to prevention and treatment of bleeding. Future research priorities should focus on improving our ability to prevent bleeding by identifying modifiable risk factors and the development of safer agents. The current front runners include drugs that selectively target the contact pathway of coagulation (e.g. factor XI). Targeting upstream drivers of thrombosis (e.g. inflammation) could help to further reduce the risk of thromboembolism.
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